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A royal decision has been announced: for the time being, former Spanish king Juan Carlos I will continue to live in the United Arab Emirates, as he has done since he fled Spain amidst financial scandal 18 months ago. This has been stated by Spain's king emeritus in a letter to his son, current monarch Felipe VI, as the Spanish royal house announced this Monday. Juan Carlos asserts that he has private reasons for maintaining his "permanent and stable" residence in the Persian Gulf. However, he does not close the door on returning to Spain in the future, and in fact, says that his intention is to visit the country "frequently". There had been much speculation about a change of residence after Spanish public prosecutors closed all their investigations into his financial affairs, as they did last week. In the letter, the former monarch also states his regrets for what he considers to be "past events" in his "private life".

The letter is dated last Saturday, although it was made public today, and begins with Juan Carlos I, recalling that he made the decision to settle in Abu Dhabi "guided by the conviction of being able to perform the best service to Spain and all Spaniards, its institutions and you as king". Having laid down this justification previously, and given the prosecutors' ending of their inquiries, the former monarch considers it "appropriate to consider" his return to Spain, but clarifies: "not immediately".

In this regard, the king emeritus alleges "reasons that belong to his private sphere" the decision to continue residing "on a permanent and stable basis" in Abu Dhabi, where he claims to have found the "peace of mind" he needs at this time of life. Having said that, Juan Carlos I adds that, "naturally", he will return frequently to Spain, which he "always carries in his heart", to visit family and friends. In this regard, and in line with his retirement from public life, he makes it clear that, both in his visits and if he decides to return to Spain in the future, his purpose is to "organize his personal life and place of residence in areas of a private nature in order to continue to enjoy the greatest possible privacy." Accordingly, it will be outside the Zarzuela royal palace in Madrid.

Only at the end of the letter does the former head of state refer to the "past events of his private life," which he says he "sincerely regrets." And then he expresses a "legitimate pride" for his "contribution to democratic coexistence and freedom in Spain, the result of the effort and sacrifice of all Spaniards."

The letter, which ends with the words "your father", has been made public by decision of Juan Carlos I. In the statement by the royal house, king Felipe VI limits himself to "respecting and understanding the will of his majesty the king Juan Carlos".

Statute of limitations and royal inviolability

As has been expected for some time, Juan Carlos I will not face any criminal charges. Last Wednesday, after months of investigation, the Spanish public prosecutor serving the Supreme Court agreed to close all investigations into the opaque activities and possible corruption of the former king. Among these, the alleged commissions for the Saudi high speed train. The reasons for the closing of the cases were several: from a lack of evidence to the statute of limitations being surpassed to the protection of action carried out during his reign under his constitutional inviolability. However, the prosecutors did admit irregularities, such as concealment of money abroad which he did not declare to the Treasury. But none of this can be pursued.


The full content of Juan CarlosI's letter

Your majesty, dear son:

In August 2020, guided by the conviction to being able to perform the best service to Spain and all Spaniards, its institutions and you as king, I informed you of my decision to move away from Spain, to facilitate the exercise of your functions. Since then, I have lived in Abu Dhabi, a place to which I have adapted my way of life and whose wonderful hospitality I greatly appreciate.

Being informed of the Decrees of the Public Prosecutors' Office, under which the investigations of which I have been the subject have been shelved, it seems to me appropriate to consider my return to Spain, although not immediately. I prefer, at this time, for reasons that belong to my private sphere and that only affect me, to continue residing on a permanent and stable basis in Abu Dhabi, where I have found peace of mind, especially for this period of my life. Although, naturally, I will return frequently to Spain, which I always carry in my heart, to visit family and friends.

I would therefore like to culminate this phase of my life from the serenity and perspective offered by the time that has elapsed. As you well know, in 2019 I informed you of my desire to retire from public life, and I am going to continue in that situation. In this regard, both during my visits and if I were to reside in Spain again in the future, my proposal is to organize my personal life and my place of residence in areas of a private nature in order to continue enjoying the greatest possible privacy.

I am aware of the importance for public opinion of past events in my private life, which I sincerely regret, just as I also feel legitimate pride in my contribution to democratic coexistence and freedom in Spain, the result of the collective effort and sacrifice of all Spanish people.

As long as it seems appropriate to you, it is my wish that you make this letter public, for the knowledge of all Spaniards and on the date you deem suitable.

With my loyalty, affection and the immense pride I feel for you.

Your father